What Can The Embark DNA Test Tell You About Your Dog?

Written by: Lisa Bernier

December 20, 2018

This post is not sponsored. However, the good humans at Embark worked with us to satisfy our curiosity about our office pups and kindly donated 3 kits for us to try.

We know that dog DNA tests can tell you about your dog’s breed, but did you know that they can also give you valuable information about what health issues, such as inherited diseases, your dog may be prone to? The Embark DNA Test Kit is a good choice because it provides a comprehensive view about your dog’s breed, ancestry, and overall health. At $199, it’s a bit more expensive than the others but has received plenty of rave reviews and has a large database of breeds to pull from. We tested three of the dogs in our office using Embark, to find out what the pup they were and came up with some surprising results.

How Does The Test Determine a Dog’s Breed?

Pit Bull Puppy DNA Test Embark

But before we get into the results, let’s explain a bit about the science behind dog DNA testing. First of all, companies create and maintain a database of breed-related genetic markers and from that, take your dog’s DNA sample and compare it to the database in order to find out what markers show up. By running your dog’s DNA sample alongside the database, these DNA testing companies can get an idea of what breeds make up your dog’s background going as far back as three generations. However, the accuracy of the tests depends on the company who is conducting the test. DNA testing companies that have a larger database to pull from tend to be more accurate. The best DNA testing companies include a majority of the American Kennel Club’s 180 recognized breeds.

What Can the Health Screening Tell Me About My Dog?

In addition to finding out your dog’s breed(s), Embark also tests for any health issues that your dog might encounter in their lifetime. Some of the conditions tested are glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy, three of the most common adult-onset diseases in dogs. This will help inform you about what you can do in terms of preventative care. Aside from knowing about any health issues, you will also receive information about your dog’s genetic age because the whole “one year equals seven dog years” thing is not completely accurate. If you know your dog’s actual genetic age, you’ll be able to find age-appropriate food for your dog as well as any age-specific check-ups you should be aware of. It also can give you information on a healthy weight for your dog. But be sure to talk to your vet about the health screening results to come up with a comprehensive wellness plan.

The Embark DNA Test In Action

In the interest of science (and also because we REALLY wanted to know) we had 3 of our employees have their dogs take the test. These rescue pups have been a subject of constant debate among the BARK humans (there may or may not have been several office pools going on about them). The mystery mutts were:

Tucker, A.K.A. The Beautiful Maybe Retriever, Maybe Not

Jax, The Most Adorable Mix Of Who Knows What On The Planet

Tonks, Has GSD In Her Somewhere, Rest Unknown

When we got the results back, everyone was surprised, especially by little Jax (many wagered he would have Dachshund in him – many wagered wrong).


Not only did they give breed and lineage, the test broke down matrilineal source (a.k.a where your dog’s ancestors originated), what genes they had that determined their fur, eye color, size and most importantly, any genetic flags regarding future health issues.


Of all three pups, Tonks seemed to have the best genes health-wise, having no indicators of active or recessive diseases or conditions.


Embark is constantly updating its database to reflect new genetic information, both breed and health-wise. In fact, the startup aims to use its information to research causes in dog and human health problems, since both pups and their people have similarities when it comes to the development of genetic diseases.

The full DNA test kit is available via the site at $199, and though it is a steeper price than other tests on the market, no other test is as comprehensive – or at the very least, no other test can help you extend your pup’s life. Additionally, if your dog is potentially a breed Embark hasn’t had a chance to collect a lot of genetic data on yet, they sometimes send a kit at discount.

Written by: Lisa Bernier

December 20, 2018

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